Remembering A. Wilson Nolle

Physics professor emeritus Alfred Wilson Nolle passed away on February 11 at the age of 97 in Austin.

Dr. Nolle was a UT Austin alum, who went on to conduct rA Wilson Nolleesearch at MIT and Harvard before returning to UT as a member of the physics faculty. According to Dr. Mel Oakes, Nolle's "influential 1948 publication 'Relaxation Effects in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Absorption' (Bloembergen, Purcell, and Pound) showed that nuclear magnetic resonance reveals molecular processes akin to those in viscoelasticity."

Dr. Oakes goes on to say:

While engaged in summer work at the MIT acoustics laboratory, Nolle visited an early magnetic resonance laboratory that made use of a large permanent magnet designed by Prof. Francis Bitter, which provided a stable magnetic field without the complication of a large electronic power supply. Working from Prof. Bitter's drawings, Nolle had a copy of the MIT magnet built in the instrument shop of the UT Physics Department. This served in the doctoral research of several graduate students until the availability of high-current transistors made it convenient to use magnets with regulated electronic power supplies. Several studies concerned phase changes in crystalline solids and involved fluorescence as well as magnetic resonance.

In 1969, at the urging of Prof. William Sutherland of the English Department, Wilson, known across campus as a principled man of high integrity, agreed to be elected president of the UT chapter of the American Association of University Professors. He was eager to have faculty involvement from an increased number of departments. It was not an uneventful tenure. There were extended hearings on an academic freedom case. The Association successfully advocated a faculty vote to create a faculty senate, which functioned for several decades. 

For more on the life and legacy of A. Wilson Nolle, visit the UT Physics History site.

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